Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!
I didn’t want to go for the clichéd swans so made crocodiles instead. However, they were flat as pancakes. Too difficult to slice open so the ‘instant custard’ was spread on top. I know, I cheated a bit… Popped them in the fridge, ended up like spongy floppy things, which were eaten as my ‘end of breakfast treat’. My active lifestyle allows me to eat carbs and fat first thing in the morning and last thing at night! My second attempt (which took place just now) consisted of heart shaped pate a choux filled with whipped cream & flavoured with M&S Terribly Clever Irish Cream Mousse base – yum!
Pate a choux
• Mixing bowls
• Silicone spatula or wooden spoon
• Baking sheets (silicone mats are also very useful)
• Electric beater
• Piping bag or plastic bag with a snipped-off corner
• Sharp knife
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) (1/4 oz) (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gm) (4 oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (18 gm) (2/3 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
4 large egg yolks, well beaten
1 cup (240 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) heavy (whipping) cream (about 35% butterfat)
In a medium saucepan combine gelatin, flour, and sugar. Mix very well.
Add egg yolks and turn heat to medium-low. Stir almost constantly until mixture is thick enough to cover the back of your spatula or spoon. This should take about 10 minutes.
Once thick, immediately dump into a bowl, staring the mixture if you are concerned about lumps of cooked egg.
Add the vanilla, and mix in well.
Cover the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and chill for about 45 minutes. You do not want the mixture to set, just to continue thickening.
Now is a good time to begin your choux paste.
In a large bowl, beat cream until light peaks form. Carefully fold the vanilla mixture into the whipped cream until the mixture is well-blended and fairly smooth.
Refrigerate mixture if not using immediately.
Pate a choux
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gm) (4 oz) butter
1 cup (240 ml) water
¼ teaspoon (1½ gm) salt
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
Line at least two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper, or grease pans well.
Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5 .
In a small saucepot, combine butter, water, and salt. Heat over until butter melts, then remove from stove.
Add flour all at once and beat, beat, beat the mixture until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot.
Add one egg, and beat until well combined. Add remaining eggs individually, beating vigorously after each addition. Resulting mixture should be somewhat glossy, very smooth, and somewhat thick.
Using a ¼” (6 mm) tip on a pastry bag, pipe out about 36 swan heads. You’re aiming for something between a numeral 2 and a question mark, with a little beak if you’re skilled and/or lucky.
Remove the tip from the bag and pipe out 36 swan bodies. These will be about 1.5” (40 mm) long, and about 1” (25 mm) wide. One end should be a bit narrower than the other.
Bake the heads and bodies until golden and puffy. The heads will be done a few minutes before the bodies, so keep a close eye on the baking process.
Remove the pastries to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before filling.
Take a swan body and use a very sharp knife to cut off the top 1/3rd to ½.
Cut the removed top down the center to make two wings.
Dollop a bit of filling into the body, insert head, and then add wings.
Your first attempt will probably not look like much, but the more you make, the more your bevy of swans will become a beautiful work of swan art.
Vanilla Crème Patissiere
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla
Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.
Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.
Chocolate Pastry Cream
(Half Batch Recipe):
Bring ¼ cup (about 50 cl.) milk to a boil in a small pan; remove from heat and add in 3 ounces (about 80 g.) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, and mix until smooth. Whisk into pastry cream when you add the butter and vanilla.
Coffee Pastry Cream
(Half Batch recipe)
Dissolve 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder in 1 ½ teaspoons boiling water. Whisk into pastry cream with butter and vanilla.
1 cup (225 ml.) cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
Chill medium mixing bowl and whisk in freezer for 10 minutes before beginning. In chilled bowl, whisk cream until it begins to foam and thicken. Add sugar and continue to whisk just until soft peaks form. Do not over-whip.
Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: While the crème filling stores well when covered tightly and kept in a refrigerator, the baked choux does not store well at all, especially after being filled. Therefore, you must eat these the day they are made. This won’t be a problem, though, I assure you.